Learning to See

Maria Montes
2 min readNov 4, 2021


I would like to share with you a post from Paula Bonet, a Spanish artist I admire, reflecting on the topics of education and personal style.

When I decided to open La Madriguera and teach courses, back in 2017, a colleague told me: “But you won’t teach how to do it with watercolour graphite, right? That’s your hallmark.”

When I heard that, I remembered my grandmother cooking in the street with the neighbours during the town festival. I remembered how she liked to run the show, be aware of the fire in each pot, give orders, explain how everything was done. The ladies said how strange, because that was exactly how they cooked it at home, but they never managed to give it that good taste that hers has got. “Oh girl, I don’t know, you must do something wrong!” My grandmother answered.

One day I saw my grandmother taking a silver foil sachet out of her sleeve and put something into the boiler. I asked her what she was doing and she gave me a pinch that still hurts to make me shut up.

My colleague’s question struck me as just as silly as that pinch. How is anyone going to own anything? Why not to share what you know? Why remain so aware of the copy, or the others, if painting, if art in general, is something else? […]

The hallmark of someone — if that is what you care about — is in their gaze, in their intention, in the need they have to tell something. The copy, the “style” thing, the hiding of information when we are training — and also afterwards — , seems to me a supine stupidity.

I have been teaching independently for seven years. I tell my students that the purpose of learning a specific calligraphy or lettering style lies in learning to see by acquiring visual literacy, understanding the historical context and the structure behind each alphabet.

I’m not interested in creating an army of calligraphers and letterers producing the same outcome, but a group of designers focused on learning about letterforms and ultimately, about themselves. With time and experience, the goal is finding your own voice by generating work that reflects your gaze, your interests, and most importantly, your intentions.

“We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are” Anaïs Nin

My mission is sharing knowledge, helping others to grow, branch out and flourish, and create emotion through my work. Above all, I have my own story to tell.



Maria Montes

Barcelona born, Naarm based independent lettering designer and illustrator specialised in branding assets and calligraphy education. www.mariamontes.net